Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by Matt the Baritone, Jun 6, 2012.
and why are all the big contests on a saturday? alot of us work on a saturday.
After sitting through both sections on Saturday I feel compelled to stimulate the old debate of how to manipulate the score to achieve maybe what is not the intent of the composer. The use of mutes and other articles to cheat away from the score is rife in some bands and along with facing the wrong way to hide your quiet playing is a joke. Why can't it be a level playing field, all play what is written, all use same mutes and do not use tea towels, an old mattrasses or anything else draped over the bell end to deaden the sound. Dyke's sop was facing the wrong way playing into the reps back.....why not just walk off stage and be done with it!
Also, although the playing level was very high yesterday and a two fine performances clinched it on the day for Black Dyke I am interested on how the adjudicators - Wormald and Roberts differentiate between different pieces to judge the performing bands. Do they have a system of how difficult a piece is and correlate this to how well its played and therefore is Rococo Variation easier to Audivi Media Nocte?? Is it better to play a, what is on the surface, a difficult piece not very well or choose a one with hidden styles and play it very well?? I would very much like a reply on how they judged this aspect.
Was this the right set of results yesterday?, I don't think so. Did all band play fair and square and abide by the composers instructions? I dont think so either. Maybe we should an on-stage referee who ensure fair play takes place. Don't move chairs, play the right mutes and refrain from hanging upholstery from the instrument. Maybe then we should see fair play on the contest stage.
Maybe we could use those goal line blokes from the football; I really don’t know what they are meant to be doing!!! While the old tricks are an annoyance to the watcher I guess they have always gone on and always will do because we are playing to a man in a box. Should the adjudicators be musically savvy enough to hear blatant, cadenza chopping up, dusters over bells, dusters in mutes, playing into backs, Bb basses playing low eflat parts and visa versa, Sops playing high cornet parts...(all of which I’m told went on this Saturday, even by the winning band) maybe they should. Maybe it’s one of the downfalls of us sometimes having judges who haven’t played at the top level in bands, not in any way meaning to disregard what they bring from their particular field, it's a valuable opinion from a different musical perspective, but those who have been there and done it in recent times would be able to see the old tricks coming out of the box before they arrive and possibly be looking out for let’s say creative re-arranging. Is splitting a solo/cadenza up any better than peddling which attracts all sorts of opinions these days!!!
Maybe you should acquire a time machine and go back to the mid-80's then?
IMO the majority of this 'Euro guff' written in recent years are amazing pieces of music. I guess the modernity of a piece like 'Audivi Media Nocte' is way too much to take for some people (even though half of it is written in the style of Thomas Tallis!)
... Europeans mostly!
Bit harsh. Nowhere is more depressing than Corby...
And on a more serious note, I think that's a bit harsh, too. Remember how many people thought Blitz was a load of old spherical objects when it came out? It doesn't lack in bizarre harmony either. Neither does Harmony Music, in places, come to think of it.
Personally I went largely so I could hear the live performances of Audivi Media Nocte and Extreme Makeover, both of which I think are great. The pieces that really boil my urine are the empty "showpiece" commissions that were trendy for a few years at the European, like Spheres, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Shoulders, Red Priest, etc. I found the two "European" pieces to be the best music of the day on saturday. However I'm a bit of a geek. And a BOC. You might well be right that it puts off the general listener, but I think that's probably true of test-pieces in general. I don't think just playing older or "more melodious" test-pieces on would make any difference.
The question should be asked, why does that apply here in the UK but not in Norway or Switzerland? I sat next to a Norwegian friend for part of the contest, who made the point that were the same contest to take place in Norway the hall would have been at least 4 times as full.
The other urine-boiler is all this guff about how facing the back of the stage, using dusters, swapping parts etc. is cheating. Personally I don't like it because I'd rather see the composer's wishes followed to the letter and because players at this level ought to be able to play pianissimo without putting their heads between their legs and playing into the floor. However, it appears to win contests, and that's all that matters! Isn't it...?
Maybe. Or maybe it's because the judges can't see what's happening on the stage. Or maybe it's because the rules don't prohibit any of the practices you mention and therefore are not eligible for punishment. In fact, thinking about it, I think my suggestions are more likely reasons.
I fear that even the 1880's would be dangerously modern for the arch reactionary Mr H.
Ha ha. The pop music was certainly better then!
He has something of a point about the quality of pieces, though. If you're a connoisseur of test-pieces, the 80s were a bit of a golden age. Think of all the Nationals pieces that became classics - Blitz, Contest Music, Ballet for Band, Dances and Arias, Cloudcatcher Fells, Harmony Music, English Heritage. All pieces of high compositional quality which are also accessible and enjoyable to listen to, and at least four of them by composers who'd never written a Nationals peice before, 3 of whom had made their name in the wider classical music world before being commissioned to write a band piece (McCabe, Horovitz and Lloyd). Then try and think of a similar list from the last 20 years. Not so easy.
After Paganini Variations, I struggle to think of a really memorable, high quality test written specifically for a major UK contest. Dances & Alleluias, Rococo Variations and Vienna Nights, maybe, they were by established names who'd written loads of works before. Eden is the only really decent new work for a UK contest by an "outside" composer, and although personally I love it and I think the ending is heartbreakingly beautiful, the central section certainly isn't immediate accessible to the casual listener.
I think we have to remember that those who attend contests are either brass band fans or supporter, not those at Morley Town Hall or the local patrons concert. I would venture a guess that very few people from the 'general public' attend them - summed up by the British Open weekend ie sold out on the Saturday but generally no more than 2/3rds full at anytime, then the concert on the Sunday, virtually every seat sold and mainly general public attendees.
With this in mind, looking at the list of own choices on Saturday with the possible exception of Revelation, which I think is a masterpiece but could understand why people would find it a tough listen, I don't think any of the other pieces could be described as unaccessible. Incidentally, having mentioned Manger's unreal performance of Audavi Medici Nocte to one of my non-musician friends, they asked to listen to it. I played them the last 4-5 minutes and they were utterly blown away by it.
I suspect the issue with the ENBBC is a mixture of British banding apathy (if this competition were in Norway, Holland or Switzerland, tickets would be like gold dust) and the fact that the competition is still in its infancy really. There is an argument for geography with Preston being that little bit further for those travelling from the east and south. Would it improve attendence improved dramatically if it were held in central London, Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham though? I am not sure sadly.
'Very few' is almost certainly an overestimate.
Concerts are for people who like music for its own sake. Contests are for people who enjoy sports events. People who like music for its own sake generally do not attend events where the music is used merely as a means to an end. Hence your observation, I think.
some really interesting and very different opinions here...which all go to show just how subjective and personal tastes in music are. Not a bad thing imho - how boring would it be if we all liked exactly the same things?! I totally understand why very few members of the general public aren't interested in our blood sport of contesting, and I'm ok with that - I've never seen contests as a means to reach a wider audience or make a massive profit in ticket sales. And the flipside of that is, I don't like a lot of the concerts and 'easy listening' CDs that are programmed and marketed very well to appeal to a broader audience. I'm ok with that too - each to their own.
As far as test pieces go, not all of the old 'barnstormers' were that well recieved when they first came out - time and familiarity make a big difference to perceptions and 'classic' status. Personally, I like a lot of the 'Euro Guff' including some that almost never get used, like Seid and Red Earth. I think its a real shame pieces like Albion and Extreme Makeover don't get more outings, and I would have loved to be in Preston to hear live performances of EM and Audiva Media Nocte. The repertoire didn't put me off at all, if anything it made me keener on going, but unfortunately life and the distance got in the way!
And fwiw, my list from the last 20 years would include Isaiah 40, Masquerade, Tallis Variations, St Magnus, Vienna Nights.....
That's an extremely broad generalisation. Personally, I love listening to contests and love playing in them. I love seeing how different conductors approach the music and how different bands and players play a test piece. But I also like music for its own sake, but don't like the insinuation that anyone who likes contesting is some kind of 'musical criminal' and musically less intelligent than someone who doesn't.
I made no such insinuation.
I'm sure you do. But for most people who aren't either bandsmen themselves or closely associated with a band, this sort of forensic interest leaves them cold. That's why they don't attend. That was my point.
So if you were a casual reader, how would you take the comment 'contests are for people who like sports events'? In my view this reads as being extremely patronising and condescending. Additionally, I do not see how enjoying listening to different interpretations of a work by different groups and conductors could be described as 'forensic interest' - surely this is more for counting splits and wrong notes (which unfortunately does go on a lot!)??
You seem to be implying that sports events are in some way inferior. I don't share your view. I was merely pointing out that contest are, like all other sports, competitions - two or more competitors in pursuit of a prize. No argument there, surely?
As for 'the casual reader', I don't think we have any of those on this forum, do we? We're all fully-paid up anoraks of the brass band community, aren't we? I know I am.
Unfortunately the tone or your posts (and others I have read where you show your marked disdain for contesting) suggests otherwise - and I think show a marked level of disrespect to the players and conductors who work hard to put on a good show at a contest. As for the 'casual reader' comment, you are merely picking at holes in my writing now and not actually giving a response. You also failed to answer my query about you describing my enjoyment of listening to contests as a 'forensic interest'.
I was at the contest on saturday, and it was one of the most enjoyable contests I have been to. Shame there was a massive lack of support. One thing I will say (if I am wrong, correct me) but no-one has mentioned Glyn Williams, who on the day I felt was outstanding in Masquerade. Black Dyke miles ahead in own choice though, but Fodens were impressive in the set work.
For what its worth, i think part of the problem is over exposure/too many contests. So far this year, my own band has entered, Butlins, Yeovil, Area, Grand Shield, and will have Nationals as well later on. We didnt enter the International Master thing, or get invited to this contest, didnt qualify for the Open, but if we did, that would have been maybe 7 contests we could of done this year! Thats not counting BIC another local contest we may be doing, or the Scottish or French Opens we also considered. Potential for 10/11 contests this year. Massive overkill for potential audience!
Compared to the European bands, correct me if i'm wrong but dont they have just 1 or 2 contests per year in their own contries (plus europeans)?
The other thing is...this contest is fairly close to the Grand Shield and Open, plus its just after the Europeans. I know member of my band that travelled all the way to the Euros but would never consider going to this contest to hear the same pieces all over again!
Plus...i'm not sure i can be bothered to enter a contest that no one can be bothered to come and listen to. Guess its a double edged sword in that sense.
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